An update on Independence Center's progress

Monday, July 20, 2009

Earlier in the year I wrote about efforts to change the face of Independence Center, 27 units at Plaza Way. Since the article was published in mid-April the parking lot has been repaved and several stores have opened or undergone renovations.

Tailwinds RC Hobby Center opened last week at 1 S. Plaza Way. The hobby center sells radio-controlled helicopters, airplanes, boats and related supplies and parts.

Fashion Nails at 53 S. Plaza Way recently completed renovations.

And The Venue at 80 S. Plaza Way is continuing its transformation from a former Army Reserve office to a 28,000-square-foot wedding and event center. Nearly $400,000 has been spent placing a new stone wall on its exterior, installing new floors, and a new HVAC system, building a bar and grand ballroom and putting more than 35 chandeliers inside the building, owner Jummie Ready said. Its first event, a wedding, has been booked for Aug. 22. An open house is set for Sept. 5.

Ready, who also manages the Independence Center property, said discussions are ongoing with a costume shop and pizza parlor.

* Rumors about Albert Pujols coming to Cape Girardeau: The talk around town is that St. Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols is interested in purchasing a home at Dalhousie Manor. Often news like this turns out to be only a rumor, but we'll see if this becomes more than hearsay.

Pujols is a member at Dalhousie, one of the best golf courses in the state. And sources have told us Pujols likes the schools here in Cape Girardeau, though nothing has been confirmed yet.

Dalhousie Golf Club course owner and managing member Cord Dombrowski said he's heard the same rumors but said there's no truth to the news.

"I wish it were true," Dombrowski said. "After he joined last year some people saw him out here, and I think that's where it got embellished."

If anything develops the Southeast Missourian will pass on the news to you. In the meantime we all -- including this Cubs fan -- will root for the player as he tries to capture baseball's triple crown.

* New winery opens near Trail of Tears State Park: While Southeast Missourians may have celebrated their Fourth of July by grilling bratwursts, hanging out by the pool or catching a few fly balls on the baseball field, Lea Anne and Jim Casteel marked Independence Day by opening Hunter Valley Winery.

Named after the couple's 12-year-old son, Hunter, the winery offers eight varieties of wine served inside its large cedar barn. Lea Anne Casteel said they hope to add outdoor seating, expand their varieties of wine and extend their days of operation in the near future.

The winery, at 762 Route V near Trail of Tears State Park, is open noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and 12:30 to 6 p.m. Sundays. The winery's phone number is 332-0879.

"We love wine and visiting wineries," said Lee Anne Casteel, who said the winery has been five years in the making. "Plus my husband has always enjoyed growing things, so we thought we'd give this a try."

* Convenience store razed: Last week crews razed the Amerimart convenience store at 865 N. Kingshighway to make room for a new one. Midwest Energy owner Laura Younghouse said she had wanted to raze the building for quite some time, but when an ice storm destroyed the convenience store's canopy in January she felt the time was right to go ahead with the plans.

When the 3,000-square-foot convenience store reopens in four months, it will have both a new name -- BP -- and a larger selection of coffee, more healthy food choices like fresh fruit and sandwiches and a drive-thru window.

Midwest Energy has been in business since 1980. Younghouse purchased the company in 1993. Midwest Energy has 11 Amerimarts under the Sinclair and BP brands. The company just acquired a store in Advance, Mo., near Route C and Highway 25.

"We're looking for growth but at a steady pace," Younghouse said. "But nothing crazy. If we see an opportunity, we'll take a look at it."

* What's cooking?: A story on the St. Louis Post Dispatch website said chef Lynn Krause, who once taught culinary classes at Southeast Missouri State University, has been named this year's recipient of the American Culinary Foundation's Humanitarian of the Year Award.

* Perryville company honored: Earthworks Inc., which has an office in Perryville, Mo., was recently recognized by the city of St. Louis as the exclusive supplier of Missouri limestone used in the construction of the Citygarden, a three-acre area that features modern and contemporary sculptures in downtown St. Louis.

"The garden was inspired by the natural history of St. Louis, and Earthworks' limestone provided the cornerstone to meet the architectural design to represent geographic features. t is exciting to be part of a project that will showcase the natural stone found right here in our Southeast Missouri quarries," said co-owner Kevin Thieret.

Southeast Missourian business reporter Brian Blackwell may be reached at 388-3628 or;

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